About Robyn Roste

The short story is I'm a professional writer living and working in Abbotsford, BC Canada.

Five Step Social Media Strategy for Writers

Let’s face it. Social media marketing can be overwhelming. The more experts and gurus you listen to, the more steps there seems to be to reach the social media success train. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s your five step social media strategy, aka what to focus on when you don’t have time to be social.

Five Step Social Media Strategy

Because you’re busy and looking for help NOW we’re going to dive right in. Take what you need and do it NOW. Pro tip: Don’t do this all at once, pick what you can do first and work on it first. Then come back and pick another to work on. Then another. Look at it like building blocks—do what you can, master it, then move on to the next step.

Five Step Social Media Strategy

  1. Decide on your objectives
  2. Your options are endless here, but the key is choosing a goal. What are your social media goals? Why are you posting? You need something to keep you focused on the big picture so you keep moving towards your writing/business targets.

    A few objectives ideas: build your online profile, build brand visibility, networking, reach new clients/readers, stay connected with current clients/readers, launch products/books/services.

    Remember: choose one and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that objective move on to another, then another.

  3. Choose your social networks
  4. I know you know. You don’t have to be everywhere. However. You do need to be online. It’s where the marketplace is. So you must choose where to spend your social time/energy. There is a lot of advice out there for which networks have the biggest payoff but you will need to decide for yourself what works. A couple questions to consider when choosing your social networks: Where are you most comfortable online? Where are your clients/readers most comfortable online?

    My two cents. If you’re a writer and trying to build your platform as a writer, I recommend Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as your networks of concentration.

    Twitter

    Yes people are saying Twitter is on its way out and yes it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. However. This is where you meet other writers. You know who else you meet on Twitter? People looking for writers. How you manage Twitter is an art in itself (which I plan on writing about soon) but once you have it set up, you will understand why I won’t let Twitter go.

    Twitter is for quick interactions. It’s great for sharing helpful links, meeting new people, and getting ideas. However, it’s not a place to sell. You build relationships on Twitter, 140 characters at a time.

    Facebook

    Yes people are saying you have to pay to play to get any traction on Facebook and yes it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. However. This is where the largest concentration of people who are on social media are. Facebook. Join the conversation.

    If you think of Facebook as a place to host/advertise events, join writers groups, and share your blog posts and article clippings, it may start to make more sense. However, this is not a place to vent your personal feelings about in-the-moment happenings. Yes you see people doing that all the time, but they’re not trying to build a professional brand and they’re using their personal profile to do that. If you think about your professional goals and aligning what you post on Facebook with them, you’ll know what you need to do.

    Instagram

    Yes people are saying Instagram’s shadow ban and algorithm change are messing everything up and yes it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. However. This is where your future fans and readers are. Trust me on this. It’s time to figure Instagram out.

    Instagram is a wonderful place to connect with people as you build your brand. How? Consistency and engagement. That means YOU are consistent and YOU are engaging with others. You can share your writing, post prompts or inspiration, and behind-the-scene peeks at your writer’s life. Images have a way of connecting people with you that words alone don’t. However, this is not a place to post your entire vacation photo album—not when you’re building your professional brand. This is also a place where you do need to engage and be active. If you don’t post and interact with other posts, you don’t grow.

    Wondering how on earth to do this? Read my post on how to build an Instagram strategy. This is one of my favourite client services and I’ve seen this strategy work time and time again.

    Remember: choose one social network and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that social network move on to another, then another.

  5. Complete your social media profiles
  6. Not only complete, but optimize. How? I’m glad you asked! Read my post with five tips for optimizing your social media profiles.

    Looking for the quick fix? Here are the main points.

    • Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
    • Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do
    • Link to your website
    • Include keywords about your services
    • Be clear on your location/contact info

    My biggest tip for optimizing your social profiles is consistency across platforms. Each network has its own rules for how long your bio can be, what sort of profile image works, and where your website link goes, but if you can keep more or less consistent then you’re on the right track.

  7. Interact with your audience
  8. We talked about this a bit in the social media section but it needs repeating. The point of social media is to be social. I know, you don’t have time to be social. Do you have 15 minutes? Spend 15 minutes a day checking into your two or three chosen social networks and leave comments, reply to comments, and lend your expertise whenever convenient. Trust me, this will expedite your brand building like nothing else will.

    Reminder: You’re not on social media to sell. You’re here to be social. Offer value, compliments, and help. Sales will follow.

  9. Build your promotion strategy
  10. All along we’ve been talking about how you DON’T sell on social media. But you do need promotion. There is a difference.

    In most cases, clients/readers need to know, like, and trust you before they’ll hire you/buy your book. In a virtual world, how do you make this happen? You need a strategy for converting warm leads into clients and retaining existing clients.

    If you can stay in touch in a consistent, helpful, positive way, people who visit your website or connect with you on social will get to know you and will develop trust in you and your brand.

    I know it as a “keep in touch strategy.” I first heard about it when I read Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling. He suggests building an automated strategy using customer relationship management (CRM) software. While that’s something you can build to, there’s lots you can do before investing in a CRM.

    You’ll need to figure out a few things you can do to make people feel special, noticed, and important. Here are some ideas.

    Passive ways to stay in touch

    • Posting regular blog/website content
    • Posting regular social content
    • Share real-life tips and tricks from behind the scenes of your business
    • Commenting on/liking/sharing others’ posts on social media

    Active ways to stay in touch

    • Build an engaged email list and connect consistently
    • Send handwritten notes or cards
    • Live streaming—doesn’t get much more personal than that!
    • Initiate communication
    • Send an article you think your contact would appreciate (personal touch)
    • Become a connector—in helping your connections cross-promote or develop business otherwise (even if it’s without you) you will build so much good will
    • Share gratitude and compliments—recognize others, say thank you, give sincere, public displays of affection

    Remember: choose one and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that strategy move on to another, then another.

There, of course, is more. But you don’t have to do it all today. If you’re feeling like you don’t have time to be on social media or you’re overwhelmed with where to start, then please implement this five step social media strategy. It WILL help you! And if you are just plain stuck then I can help. All you have to do is get in touch.

Grab these 125 hashtags for writers

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Let’s face it. Social media marketing can be overwhelming. The more experts and gurus you listen to, the more steps there seems to be to reach the social media success train. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s your five step social media strategy, aka what to focus on when you don’t have time to be social.

Ben-Hur (2016) [movie review]

From executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes an epic and awe-inspiring story of faith and forgiveness. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the film tells the uplifting story of Judah Ben-Hur, who is enslaved by the Romans after being betrayed by his brother Messala.  Separated from his family and the woman he loves, Ben-Hur is rescued from near death by the mysterious Ilderim. He returns to his homeland seeking revenge against his brother and an empire, but instead he finds a chance for redemption.

Watching the remake of a classic movie is tricky. On one hand, it’s exciting because you love the movie and want to see it modernized. On the other hand, what if the new movie is awful? Will it be a devastating experience?

I felt this way about Ben-Hur (2016). This is a classic. A CLASSIC! Could a remake do it justice?

Before Ben-Hur (2016) was released I saw a 15-minute preview at a conference. It was still in post production and there were some glitches but it was an impressive preview (they showed the chariot race scene). Feeling confident with the remake, I set my expectations to moderate.

But when I received the new release of Ben-Hur on Blu-Ray I procrastinated watching it. Because the fear. What if the chariot race was the only good part? What if the glitches stayed? What if it ruined the story for me?

Well, of course I watched it. And I thought it was well done. The CGI and filming were remarkable, the acting was emotional and compelling, and the film stayed true to the original story. All good things. It brought out the themes of right versus wrong, love versus revenge, forgiveness and understanding.

I’ve re-watched the film a couple times and although it’s a good film, it doesn’t replace the original. Perhaps they weren’t trying to (and I’m glad about that!). This remake brings the classic story into the 21st century and nothing more.


Ben-Hur (2016) synopsis

From executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes an epic and awe-inspiring story of faith and forgiveness. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the film tells the uplifting story of Judah Ben-Hur, who is enslaved by the Romans after being betrayed by his brother Messala. Separated from his family and the woman he loves, Ben-Hur is rescued from near death by the mysterious Ilderim. He returns to his homeland seeking revenge against his brother and an empire, but instead he finds a chance for redemption.

Five Podcasts I Love

Looking for a new podcast? Here are five I'm loving right now and a bit about why.

I love podcasts. LOVE podcasts. I’ve loved them since the moment I heard about them (whenever that was) and have dreamed about having my own podcast for years now. I even built a business plan around a knitting-themed podcast but it never launched (still have all my notes though…).

Why are podcasts so great? Well I think it has something to do with the medium. Because I think radio is pretty great too. Listening to a person speak connects you in a way the written word doesn’t, and that’s saying something since writing is my passion. But podcasting? I love podcasts. I like them all: conversations, interviews, monologues, stories, poetry, scripted, silly, and everything in between. I listen to them while I’m working (if I’m doing a brainless task), while I’m driving, at the gym, while I’m walking, when I’m weeding/watering the garden, and whenever I’m by myself. I will listen with my husband while we’re on road trips, but he’s not so open to any and every podcast as I am so our playlist is a bit smaller.

I often am asked what podcasts I recommend so I thought today I’d share my top five of the moment. I’m always listening to more than five but these are five I recommend over and over.

The Fizzle Show Podcast

Podcasts I love, #1: The Fizzle Show

With this podcast, I have an on-again, wow-I’m-sick-of-them relationship but I have listened since the beginning and am still subscribing, so they must be doing something right! Each week the team at Fizzle uploads a new episode aimed at small business owners who want to earn a living doing something they care about. They focus on modern business essentials, self employment, marketing, productivity, work-life balance, and more. Everything in their podcast points back to their small business training courses, which I have subscribed to for the past two years and have found amazing. I trust this team to give me the tools I need to run my business.

Copyblogger FM Podcast

Podcasts I love, #2: Copyblogger FM

I love everything Copyblogger does and when they started podcasting I subscribed to every show. Well, there were a lot of shows and after a while I dropped most of them (or they got dropped…I’m not 100 per cent certain what’s going on TBH) and circled in on my favourite: Copyblogger FM. This is a short-form broadcast with solo shows and interviews focusing on content marketing, copy writing, email marketing, conversion, optimization, and more. They offer a few courses and products but I haven’t taken part (yet). But I do love their advice and would recommend their podcast and blog to anyone interested in improving their online communication.

Myths and Legends Podcast

Podcasts I love, #3: Myths and Legends

This is a new show in my podcast rotation. My husband and I discovered it while on a road trip earlier this year and while I thought it was something we’d listen to when together, I’ve gone ahead and listened to most of the archive plus all the new shows on my own. So I guess I like it. This is a solo podcast telling stories from myths, legends, and folklore from around the world. Some of the stories I’ve heard before, but I don’t think they ever get old. And yes, there are wizards, knights, and dragons—oh my!

Most of the podcasts in my rotation I’ve chosen because I think they can help me move the needle forward on my professional life. This one? Yeah, it’s pure entertainment. Of course there are valuable tips on how to creatively tell stories and create engagement, so I can still say I’m learning something! There seems to be an entire sub-culture around this podcast but I haven’t checked any of it out. So I guess I’m not there yet.

Online Marketing Made Easy

Podcasts I love, #4: Online Marketing Made Easy

I think I have also listened to this podcast since the beginning. This (usually) solo podcast is a smart, in-depth look at online business. It focuses on all sorts of topics like marketing strategy, email list growth, Facebook ads, and more. I trust what I hear in this show to be a few steps ahead of me and teach me what’s going on in the ever-changing world of digital marketing just before I need to know it. I can’t say enough good things—this one has always been on my playlist and I continue finding great value from it. This podcast also points back to various courses you can purchase. I haven’t tried any out but they sound pretty good.

Under the Influence Podcast

Podcasts I love, #5: Under the Influence

Before Under the Influence there was the show’s precursor, The Age of Persuasion. This show also airs on public radio in Canada and the US and I’ve loved everything about it for as long as I’ve known about it. This solo show is as scripted as it gets and while it takes a little getting used to, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Under the Influence is a behind-the-scenes look at the advertising industry and filled with fascinating case studies from the past and present, showing how marketing and human nature intersect. I think it’s so amazing the moment I learned the host was coming to speak at a local event I dropped everything to go. I booked off work, hustled my way into a ticket, walked 18 blocks in the rain, and showed up 30 minutes early to get the best seat. Yeah. Big fan.


And those are my top five podcast recommendations for you! I hope you can find something new and interesting to listen to—something that inspires you to take action on whatever you’re holding back on right now. Oh, and I’m always taking new podcast recommendations too so if there’s one I need to check out please let me know!

You have something to say…but you don’t know where to start.  You’ve got a story to tell…but you’re struggling to find someone to listen.  You’re passionate about spreading the word…but you’re overwhelmed and don’t know who to trust.  You’ve got your business up and running…but you need clients.  My mission is helping you reach your goals, no matter what your “but” is.

Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas [book review]

Story Sparks Finding Your Best Story Ideas & Turning Them into Compelling Fiction by Denise Jaden

Story Sparks. S.P.A.R.K.S. An acronym of author Denise Jaden’s own making, this concise 166-page book talks us and then walks us through how to come up with ideas and keep the idea train running at full steam.

Seek. Jaden encourages us to change our mindset from coming up with ideas to finding them. Transforming into an Idea Seeker. This means you go out, you search, you look for inspiration. Then when your list feels sufficient, you create. Treating ideas like something to be discovered transformed the idea process into something to enjoy rather than stress over.

Passion. What inspires you? Jaden challenges us to look for what we’re already passionate about and write from that place, rather than writing about what we think we should write. She says for our readers to feel deep emotions, we must write with deep emotions and passion. So, which ideas propel you to write?

Allies. Who do you trust to bounce ideas off of? Anyone? Jaden says we need allies on our writing venture. We need them not only to test ideas but to help spark new ones. But what if our ally steals our idea? Jaden says although we need to choose our allies with care, we shouldn’t worry about idea theft. “Each writer may start with the exact same idea, but each uses that idea to say something unique, perhaps even wildly different or opposed, based on their worldview,” (20).

Resonance. This is the part where we’re warned not to write a book because it’s trendy or selling right now. It won’t resonate. Instead, she says we need to think about what our story satisfies in readers. Don’t worry about the selling part right now, focus on the writing. What about our story will resonate with our readers? Can we make it better? More dangerous? Add higher stakes? Can something go wrong?

Kinetic Energy. At the end of the journey comes the momentum. Action happens first, then momentum grows. Jaden says, “As these elements come together, this ‘kinetic’ energy gives your ideas a unique momentum that will carry you through the actual writing of the story and make the process seem almost easy or effortless,” (31).

And that’s just part one. The following four parts are filled with great tips and inspiration for fanning the spark into a flame, developing the fire along with habits, and useful resources like prompts, themes, and even lists of names.

Reading through Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas and Turning Them into Compelling Fiction I stopped multiple times to jot down ideas, brainstorms, and topics to think about. I couldn’t believe how inspired I was—and that was just from reading! I worked through several of the exercises Jaden suggests and found them fruitful. This is a valuable read for anyone battling writer’s block, perfectionism, or just looking for new ways to keep their ideas fresh.


Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas and Turning Them into Compelling Fiction

Anyone who has been hamster-wheeling a story idea for years or has hundreds of pages exploring various approaches on their hard drive knows there must be a better way. There is. Successful young adult novelist Denise Jaden shows exactly how to create the captivating stories that prevent dispiriting wasted time. Busting the “visitation from the muses” myth, she shows that inspiration is a skill that can be learned by understanding how story ideas work (or don’t), fertilizing the ground for fresh and sound ideas, and moving swiftly through stuck points. Practical and inspiring, Jaden’s approach celebrates the imaginative sparks that make innovations of all kinds possible while pinpointing the precise tools writers need to fan their unique creative flames.

Jaden shares, “I think the idea that everyone has a story in them is universal. I speak with many people who say, “I could never write a book,” but when I start to delve into their lives and the possibilities for stories within them, something lights up.” The truth is, finding great story ideas does not have to be a gift or a talent grown from birth. It is a skill, and it can be learned.

In Story Sparks, you will…

  • Learn how and why stories resonate with us
  • Discover new and fun ways to come up with story ideas
  • Get help in choosing from ideas and then following through with them
  • Troubleshoot ideas for potential pitfalls
  • Find a lengthy appendix of ideas for getting unstuck

Denise Jaden, author of Story Sparks and Fast Fiction, fast-drafted her debut novel, Losing Faith (Simon Schuster), in twenty-one days during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Her second fast-drafted novel was published in 2012. She runs a fast-drafting challenge on her blog each March and lives outside Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas and Turning Them into Compelling Fiction will be released on August 25, 2017. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon.

How to Find Hashtags: Tips and Tricks to Gain Followers

How to find hashtags, how to use hashtags, what are hashtags, and everything in between.

This is a guide for how to find hashtags and how to use hashtags to grow your audience. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you.

How to find hashtags

Up until 2007 I only knew of # as “pound sign.” Then one day, when I was living in England, I was given a gate code.

“It’s 4-8-6-3-hash.”

Wait, what?

Maybe it was a button called hash. I don’t know, maybe it’s a British thing.

The five minutes at the gate staring for the hash button was one of the longest, most awkward feeling I’ve had in some time. I can’t remember how I got out through the gate in the end, maybe someone came over and showed me which button was hash. Sigh. Canadians, amiright!?

Fast forward and everyone knows what # means. We just don’t know how to find hashtags

OK maybe my wording isn’t quite right. We see hashtags everywhere but we don’t know which ones to use or how to use them right. I know this because I’ve been to a bazillion social media events and that question comes up every time.

And I’ve heard all sorts of answers to the question. All sorts. No wonder everyone’s so confused. When there’s a cloud at the pulpit there’s a fog in the pew kind of thing. Blind leading the blind. Oh, and what about hashtag strategy?

Gah.

Perhaps you’re getting the sense we have a lot to cover here. You would be correct. This is going to be at least a four-part series. Here’s how I see it going.

  • How to find hashtags
  • How to use hashtags on Instagram
  • How to use hashtags on Twitter
  • How to create a hashtag strategy

But we could go deeper.

First, what are hashtags?

A hashtag is a word or phrase used on a social media platform preceded by a hash or pound sign (#)

That’s it. And I know if you see them around and don’t use them much you are thinking “why would I have to find hashtags? Anything’s a hashtag. #hashtag is a hashtag.

Yes. But if you’re trying to grow your audience on social media using the right hashtags in the right way can be a key strategy to growth. SO. How do you find those hashtags?


Hashtags are essential because when used properly, you gain targeted and engaged followers

Jump start your social media marketing with these 125 writing hashtags

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How to find hashtags

OK, so yes you can make up your own hashtags, but if you’re looking for engagement or want others to discover you, then you should use hashtags other people in your target audience are using. And don’t get me wrong, you can use your own branded hashtags but that is a whole other subject. Right now let’s focus on helping people find you slash your great content by using the right hashtags.

Here are two resources to check out.

Hashtagger

There are lots of hashtag discovery apps, but this is the one I like for finding popular hashtags around a certain word or phrase when I’m on the go. As in, I’m in the middle of posting and I need hashtags! The app is minimalist—your only option is to search for hashtags. You do this by typing in a word, pressing search, then selecting the hashtags from the list. You can copy up to 30 then paste them all at once into your post or comment on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.

Easy!

Hastagify.me

When I’m more organized this is a fun site to use. You can type in words to the search bar and it displays the top hashtags using fancy charts. How fun!

When you hover over the results it also displays popularity and correlation to your original search term. This is a great way to research hashtags ahead of time.

Fun!

How to find hashtags, how to use hashtags, what <em>are</em> hashtags, and everything in between.</h1> <p>This is a guide for how to find hashtags and how to use hashtags to grow your audience. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you. Follow the link and jump start your social media marketing by grabbing 125 writing hashtags.


Jump start your social media marketing with these 125 writing hashtags

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One last comment about hashtags and yes, I’m repeating myself because I’ve heard this push back SO MANY TIMES. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you. So yes, go ahead and #makeupyourown but don’t be surprised if nothing happens.

Next time, I’ll outline using hashtags for Instagram because there are a lot of rules to follow and it can be confusing! By special request I’ll also cover the Instagram shadowban, which some swear by and others swear is a hoax. Ooooh drama!